Reaching for Sun

reaching for sun

I happily stumbled upon this book while browsing the poetry section at Pioneer Book. (I do their social media – I spend a lot of time looking for good Instagrammable book covers.) Anyways, this one was fairly instagrammable, but it also looked like something I would enjoy, so I just bought it instead of taking a picture.

The book is called Reaching for Sun, and I’ve never heard of it before, or the author (Tracie Vaughn Zimmer.) It’s about a 7th grader surviving 7th grade, finding a friend, and coming of age. Also dealing with cerebral palsy, her family, and a crush on a boy. And school bullies. So basically, it’s a pretty normal look at 7th grade, with a few specifics thrown in.

Also, it’s written entirely in poetry, which means it’s more emotion-driven than plot-driven.

I loved this book. It deals with growing up in a way that doesn’t claim to provide all the answers, it deals with romance in a totally age-appropriate way, it deals with life tragedies in a way that acknowledges the pain and doesn’t pretend to be able to solve everything, and it deals with disabilities in a very real, non-condescending way. It shows you a snippet of life, but it doesn’t preach at you.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a light read with some soul. Especially anyone in 7th grade. ♦


The Sweet Nothings of Finals Week

Ethan has final exams this week, so he’s been studying like a madman. He starts conversations about Meso-American history out of thin air. He thinks mostly in Spanish, and has to stop to think of English words. On top of this, he’s been volunteering at a Spanish immersion 1st grade classroom, although he’s had to take some time away from that to study for finals.

Yesterday, he spent the morning studying for a test, then took said test. Felt good about it. Took a short break, then studied some more for another test. Studied until (my) bedtime would normally be, but still needed a break – so we stayed up to watch some Kid Snippets and Whose Line. Laughed our heads off. Relaxed a bit. Went to bed.

I snuggled up next to him and put my head on his shoulder. He put his arm around me, started playing with my hair, and bent his head down toward mine. He softly murmured:

“Dominguez and Escalante found Utah in 1776.”

Curse you, finals week. Curse you. 

It’s a Christmas Miracle!

Yesterday, there was a great and mighty happy dance.


We were totally on budget (or at least close) until about a month ago, when we stopped and thought, “How are we going to pay tuition?” Oh, snap. That’s about $2400 we weren’t counting on.

Fortunately, I have a job. Yay! We did some quick math, and discovered that we could probably afford rent, tuition, and bills for December and January, provided I keep said job and work at least 30 hours a week, and still have just about enough. Of course, that meant eating only food storage for a month. Boo. (But we have a working oven now, so that means homemade pizza! Yay again!)

In the course of all this, we starting considering financial aid again. I haven’t applied for financial aid since my sophomore year, because my taxes didn’t look poor enough for a need-based grant, and my grades didn’t look good enough for a scholarship. But with some help from friends and family and a little elbow grease at some part-time jobs, I managed to graduate without any debt. Ethan had a trust fund that took him up through this last month, and he didn’t apply for aid or scholarships because he figured there were others who needed it more. But now – we needed it.

It didn’t take too long to fill out a FAFSA, and apparently we’re pretty poor. Just got married. Not much in the bank. Independent, but only one of us working part-time. One of us going to school. Yup. We’re actually kind of ideal for financial aid. Woohoo.

So Ethan went into the financial aid office yesterday to follow up on his application. He called me up to tell me that we’ve got over $5000 coming in a Pell grant – which means we won’t have to pay it back. The government will cover the coming semester, reimburse us for last semester, and give us the extra for future schooling.

It’s kind of amazing how much pressure that takes off my brain. I’m not exactly relieved to need the extra help – but, boy, am I relieved it’s here! I did a sort of office-chair version of my Thank-you-Jesus dance (later followed up with a much more reverent prayer), and did a little bouncing around. Taking pressure off my brain apparently takes pressure off my body as well. Merry Christmas! ♦

Is The World Really Getting Scarier?

My fiance found this article about a week ago, and we’ve been discussing it for a while. Basically, it talks about how there are some pedophiles who are calling for sexual “rights”, on the basis that if homosexuality is a sexual orientation, then so is pedophilia, and pedophiles ought to be entitled to the same rights. I tend toward the conservative side, but I’m pretty sure most of my friends – gay or straight – would agree with me that the argument is ridiculous. The thing that bothers me about the article, however, is that it doesn’t seem to be written for the purpose of informing or even inspiring the public to action; the main point seems to be scaring the reader into being afraid of their own society. It’s written from a perspective of “Well, doomsday’s here.” The very fact that the article is entitled, “It Begins…” makes me wonder, “What begins?” And whatever “begins” with legalizing pedophilia certainly makes me look forward to the future of my children not one bit.

I’m getting married in a week. (Yes, I’m excited!) And we want kids. A strong family is really important to both of us, and that includes raising our children to be thoughtful, intelligent, and moral people. It also entails protecting those children from harm. Which means it’s a little off-setting sometimes when people remind us that the world is “getting scary”.

But what does that actually mean? From a Mormon perspective, we frequently hear that we’re living in “an increasingly wicked world”. And in religious terms, that means that the world no longer follows the commandments of God. (Read about Moses lately? Look up the 10 commandments. Seriously. Not followed.) Back in the old days, life was good and everybody took care of each other and nobody hurt anybody. So, from a religious standpoint, it looks like the end of the world must be near, because we’re at apocalyptic levels of wickedness.

Except that, in Old Testament times, people were still killed and cursed and raped and robbed and sometimes even sacrificed to idols. Cain killed his brother within two generation of human society. Jesus himself was killed – by the chosen people of the Lord. The world has never been pretty.

Now, lest you should think that I’m here to spread doom and gloom, let me tell you why I’m not scared. Because the world has never been pretty. People have always hurt people. People have always done stupid things. And guess what? I turned out okay. My husband-to-be turned out okay. My parents and his parents and our siblings and a whole lot of family and people we know turned out okay. And not just okay – I know some phenomenal people, who are amazing examples of upright citizenship! And a lot of those phenomenal people grew up in rough circumstances or poor homes or bad neighborhoods or what-have-you. People will always do stupid things. But just because people now do stupid things differently from people then doesn’t mean I need to be scared that my unborn children have no future. I intend to teach my children not to be stupid.

Will they still do some stupid things? Of course they will! When I was in middle school, I locked myself in my own locker, just to see if I would fit. (I did.) Was that intelligent? Of course not! But as long as my children know how to stand up for what’s right and fix their mistakes along the way, they’re going to be just fine. I had friends in grade school who drank and smoked. I didn’t. That’s what I chose. I knew people who slept around. I didn’t. I chose that. So why do people keep telling me that the world around me is going to decide who my children become? Nobody can choose that except my children. My husband and I are going to teach our kids how to tell what’s right. And then we’re going to let them live. And while we’re going to encourage them to be careful out there, we’re not going to teach them that the world is a horrible, scary place where they’re going to get hurt. We”ll teach them how to pick themselves up and dust themselves off and keep going. In the words of Kid President: “It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.”

In an “increasingly wicked world”, I introduce a remedy: an increasingly awesome child. Teach a child they can do it, and they’ll prove you right. ♦


Argentina Strikes Again!

The gods of irony must be laughing at me.

I spent most of the weekend working on a research paper for my Argentine history class. And when I say I spent most of the weekend working on a research paper… I mean that I spent most of the weekend in the hospital with friends, thinking, “Hmm. I should probably work on that research paper.”

Needless to say, I was hosed* come Monday. The paper was due Tuesday. I hadn’t even started the reading.

I don’t know if you’ve ever written a research paper before, but let me alert you to something: they’re involved. Now add that it’s a history paper, and let me say: they’re super involved. Most professors expect your paper to demonstrate that this has been your life’s work for the past three months. I now had approximately 24 hours.

The clock was ticking. My eyes were skimming. My fingers were flying. I’ve never written so much gibberish so fast in my life.** I showed up at the history department 5 minutes before the due date, to find the office locked. By a God-given miracle, one of my professors was just about to unlock the door to check her box. I was saved! The paper might be lousy, but I was going to get a grade!

Okay, now rewind to the weekend. Remember how life was upside-down? And that’s why I hadn’t written the paper yet? Yeah. That’s also why I didn’t check my email over the weekend. I logged in this morning, to find a notice that my professor has extended the due date to Monday. I still have half a week to edit that paper.

It’s an Easter miracle, Charlie Brown? ♥


* defines “hosed” as: utterly and undoubtedly affixiated in a troublesome situation.

**Lies. I wish.